11 Pieces of Info You Should Collect from Your Customers

As a small business owner, you should know who is buying your products or services. Not only should you know the names of these customers, but also you should have more knowledge about who these individuals really are – and why they choose to do business with you over others.

For Get to Know Your Customers Day, let’s explore the types of information you should learn and collect about those who support your small business:

1. Name

Get a customer’s full name, including middle initial. If you have two customers with the same name, you need to find a way to distinguish between the two as your business marketing strategies should target all unique individuals you know. If someone has a nickname, it’s helpful to obtain it as well.

2. Mailing address

Be sure to get the mailing addresses of your customers. This includes street address, city, state, and the full zip code. If you ever send out flyers, mailers, or other direct-mail marketing pieces, you’ll need to know exactly where to send these materials. Be sure to clarify any P.O. Box, apartment, or suite numbers to ensure what you’re sending out is going exactly where you intend to send it.

3. Phone number

Get all phone numbers for a customer. These may include a home phone landline number, an office phone, and a cell phone. Categorize these numbers appropriately. You may want to send text messages to your customers with special offers or alerts. You obviously want to send these messages to cell phone numbers.

4. E-mail address

Get your customers’ e-mail addresses. Whether they only have one e-mail account or use several accounts on Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail, get as many of them as possible. E-mail marketing is a big part of the business marketing strategies out there that can help increase your sales. Create customer e-mail lists that you can use to blast out your latest special offers.

5. Payment information

Obtain specific payment information from customers, such as a credit or debit card number. Doing so can make it so easy for a return customer to buy from you without having to swipe their card or enter this payment information on your website. Also, consider noting whether customers pay with cash or check. Just make it clear that all customer payment information is kept completely confidential and will only be used if a customer chooses to make a future purchase.

6. Date of birth

If they’re willing to provide it, obtain the date of birth of a new customer. Demographical information can be a huge help in your small business marketing efforts.

7. Purchase information

Determine the specific steps a customer took to buy from your small business. Document all purchases made by each client. By determining these actions, you can find out what people are buying most, what is causing them to make these purchases, and then you can use this info to increase sales in the future by having past purchasing data on file.

8. Hobbies and other interests

It may sound corny, but find out what your customers like as far as hobbies and other interests. This information may help you pitch certain products or services to specific customers in the future. Perhaps you could give out a survey and include a question like this.

9. How they found your small business

Determine how each customer came to you. Was it a referral? A YouTube commercial they watched? A website that linked to your company’s Facebook page? Collecting this information lets you know how effective your business marketing strategies are working – and which strategies are the most effective to utilize.

10. Where else they shop

Ask customers where else they have shopped in the past – or currently shop – for similar offerings that you offer. Find out why they have shopped at those businesses, and ask if there’s anything different about your approach. This could be vital information to help you learn how your small business separates itself from the rest of the pack.

11. Customer reviews

If you can get customer reviews, testimonials, or any other feedback, this data can go a long way. Learn what customers like most about your offerings. Determine how you can improve things based on any negative feedback you receive. You can also use positive reviews in your business marketing efforts.

Learn more about building your small business while staying compliant with all business regulations by working with 1-800Accountant. Call 1-800-222-6868 or check out www.1800accountant.com.

6 Ways to Make Every Business Meeting Productive

1-800Accountant explains how to hold a productive meeting in a small business.

1-800Accountant explains how to hold a productive meeting in a small business.

Meetings are a significant and necessary aspect of working as a small business owner. Perhaps you’ll be meeting with current employees or job candidates. Maybe you’ll meet with potential business partners, investors, marketing firms, web designers, or anyone else out there who could lend a helping hand to the success of your startup.

To ensure you make the most of each and every business meeting you’re involved in, 1-800Accountant offers up these simple tips to make a business meeting productive:

1. Type up and distribute a meeting agenda.

A meeting agenda is basically a roadmap to help all attendees follow the meeting. Your agenda should consist of bullet points that outline the various subjects you’ll be covering. Prepare it in advance, and e-mail it or print out hard copies for everyone. This document should be fairly short as the actual meat of the meeting will come through the ensuing discussions. Consider including people’s names on the agenda in relevant sections as well to bring their attention to certain items.

2. Determine what you want to accomplish ahead of time.

Make an effort to set specific goals for any meetings in your small business. Determine what you want to get out of a meeting, what information you need or want to learn from the meeting attendees, and what you need to communicate to those around you. The biggest key to knowing you’ve had a productive meeting is by walking away feeling better and more informed.

3. Set specific and consistent meeting times.

Perhaps you hold weekly meetings with your staff. Nail down a specific day and time to meet each week, and stick to it, whether it’s Mondays at 9 a.m. or Wednesdays at 3 p.m. Be sure to select a time when everyone is available to meet – and can give you their undivided attention.

4. Ensure everyone is engaged and participatory.

When all participants are fully engaged in a business meeting, everyone will benefit from the discussions at-hand. It’s difficult to deal with individuals who don’t seem interested in what you’re talking about and have nothing to contribute. Ask these types of attendees questions about the topics being discussed. When everyone offers something to the conversation, the meeting will be much more productive and comprehensive.

5. Eliminate any potential distractions.

Have your business meetings in a quiet place, such as a conference room in your office. Require all participants to turn off their smartphones and put them away. If possible, avoid using complicated technology to present information in case there’s a technical glitch that delays things. Distractions are not only annoying, but they also can increase the length of a meeting. Who wants to meet any longer than they have to?

6. Only hold meetings when they are truly necessary.

Business meetings should only take place when necessary. There’s no point in rounding up people for a face-to-face meeting or conference call if there is not enough business to discuss. If you hold a standing meeting on a certain day and time, don’t feel like it’s set in stone because there just might not be much for your agenda. Hypothetically, every meeting should accomplish something new – or at least make progress on an ongoing subject. On another note, only invite people to a meeting who really need to be there.

For all of your small business tax and accounting needs, along with business development guidance, turn to 1-800Accountant today. Call 1-800-222-6868 or visit www.1800accountant.com.

Image credit: The image included in this blog post is used with permission via the Flickr Creative Commons license.